It's all systems ‘go!' as Fort William Historical Park prepares to officially launch its new website, Thursday, November 6th at 11 a.m. at the Fort's Administration Building.
Accessibility and information access are the underlying features that Fort management believes will make the website the information portal to Northwestern Ontario.
The site has several innovative components, beginning with its dynamic animated introduction, which features a battery of various Fort-related images with dynamic musical accompaniment illustrating the Fort's multi-component offerings, from its famous heritage site to its award-winning festivals and innovative programs.
The site also boasts another noteworthy aspect: it is the world's largest tourism and fur trade heritage site that is dedicated to the Oji-Cree language. The site is also devoted to English and French.
"Our reason for this is that it allows us to better service one of our growing stakeholder audiences," says General Manager Sergio Buonocore. "This is a reflection of the fruitful partnerships that we currently enjoy with Nishnawbe Aski Nation and the Métis Nation of Ontario," he says.
Accessibility is further underlined by how the site addresses the needs of those with visual disabilities, employing high contrast screens and adjustable font sizes for users.
It's also a site rich in multi-media material, featuring high-definition movie, "Hinge of a Nation," plus over 40 video and sound clips.
There are also extensive education resources, with curriculum-based material, student learning plans and research projects.
Users can take virtual tours of all heritage buildings with downloadable floor plans and diagrams.
Another interesting aspect is the site's high-tech tracking system, which reveals the number of visits per day and origin. During an unofficial test run late this summer, the site received almost 700,000 hits over a 70-day period, averaging roughly 10,000 hits daily. While the majority came from Canada and the United States, other "visits" came from as far afield as Great Britain, Germany, Australia, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, and to a lesser extent, China.
This significant number of ‘cyber' visits is one reason why Fort management sees the new website as the cornerstone of the Fort's evolving branding strategy. "It is becoming more and more obvious that greater market reach is now happening in the world of cyberspace," says Mr. Buonocore. "You will the Fort devoting less effort in print promotion and more towards our website to attract more visitors to Northwestern Ontario," he says.
All media are invited to observe the website launch, Thursday, November 6th at 11 a.m. in the Administration Building of Fort William Historical Park. Refreshments will be served.